Every day, thousands of USDA employees fight on the agricultural frontline to keep our nation safe from the “bad bugs” that threaten our nation’s $500 billion agricultural industry.
The Professional Development Center (PDC) provides training, leadership and consultation to Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) employees and others who work to protect the Nation’s agriculture and natural resources from plant pests and diseases.
From July 6 through August 3, Plant Health Safeguarding Specialists (PHSS) from across the country are participating in Basic Agricultural Safeguarding Training (BAST) at the PDC’s state-of-the-art Frederick, Md. facility. BAST addresses the training and development needs of APHIS’ entry-level PHSS employees. The performance-based curriculum teaches new hires the basic skills and knowledge needed to perform their various duties.
The rigorous courses taught by the PDC’s team of training specialists cover such topics as pesticide certification, general taxonomic entomology, wood boring pests, fruit and vegetable pests, commodity survey pests, plant pathology, plant health regulations, nursery stock regulations, pre-departure manuals, biological control, environmental monitoring, survey theory and methods, and malacology, along with classes on Smuggling Interdiction and Trade Compliance (SITC) and effective presentation skills.
The PDC’s cadre of instructors, managers and technicians collectively brings to the classroom dozens of years of agricultural, scientific, and academic experience from APHIS, as well as other Federal, state and foreign agencies. BAST Team Leader Lawrence Zaleski says, “I think the real strength of our staff lies in our broad experience with all phases of plant protection, allowing us to instruct with authority.”
In a forthcoming blog entry, we will meet some of the students of BAST 1101 and learn about how they will be applying their new skills to keep America pest-free.